The witching hour is that dreaded time of day when parents are the most stressed and children inevitably choose to test boundaries. For some families this occurs in the morning when parents are trying to get ready for work while at the same time getting the kids up, dressed, fed and ready for school or daycare. For others it’s when the kids get home from school, parents get home from work, agendas need to be read, homework done and dinner made. No matter what time of the day your ‘witching’ occurs, it’s a time that can leave you exhausted and frustrated.
Let’s take a closer look at how to make this time less stressful…
1. Prepare in Advance
Whether your crazy time of day is in the morning or at dinner, preparing in advance can alleviate much of the stress. For the morning routines you can do a lot of preparation the night before such as making lunches and having the kids pick out their clothes.
You can pour dry cereal into bowls and set the breakfast table the night before. If the crazy time is later in the day you might want to prepare dinner in advance or arrange the ingredients and cooking utensils at the ready in the kitchen for when you come home.
If you’re coming home from a busy day at work you may find it helpful to take a few minutes to decompress and transition into home life mode. All you need is a few minutes. You can do something as simple as park in the driveway, close your eyes and listen to soothing music.
This allows you to relax for a few moments and let the tensions of your work day fall off your shoulders. It prepares you to shift your mind more smoothly into parent mode.
3. Take Five to Reconnect
When you step in the door take five minutes to connect with your family. Put away your cell phone and give them a hug. Take a seat on the couch or at the table and spend a few minutes re-connecting.
You might want to grab a story and cuddle on the couch or let your child show you what they made at school. Weather permitting, you might want to play catch or go for a walk to the park. This gives the kids the chance to burn off some energy before you rush back to make dinner.
4. Have the Kids Do Their Part
Involving the kids in chores is a great way to keep them occupied at this busy time. Maybe the table needs to be set or the dog needs to be fed. The wet clothes in the washing machine might need to be put into the dryer.
Having the kids assist in chores teaches them responsibility and improves their self-esteem. You can always sweeten the pot by rewarding them for additional chores.
5. Make it Fun
Children are often grumpy when they get home from school because they’re starved. Why not replace the witching hour with a happy hour instead? You can use inexpensive paper party plates and cups from the dollar store and serve up snacks and a drink.
Carrots, apple slices or a handful of nuts makes for a healthy before dinner snack. Chocolate milk or juice served with a bendy straw can add to the fun. You can sing songs or listen to music. The important thing is to make it fun and take the edge off the kid’s hunger.